Friday, July 20
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Gov. Kate Brown today asked federal officials to provide emergency aid for farmers affected by wildland fires raging in Oregon.
The letter from Wyden, Merkley and Brown to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue comes as the Substation Fire is engulfing wheat fields in Wasco and Sherman County and nearly 200 lightning-start fires are burning in southern and central Oregon.
“This type of fire has not been seen in decades and has done untold economic damage to Oregon’s farmers,” wrote Wyden, Merkley and Brown. “Wheat is a top ten Oregon commodity, valued at nearly $186 million, and this year’s wildfires are expected to have a significant impact on our statewide economy. It is with urgency we write to request that the Department of Agriculture provide any emergency assistance possible for farmers affected by wildland fires in Oregon.”
The letter notes that the Substation Fire and several other fires have burned tens of thousands of acres in Oregon, already claiming the life of one farmer.
“Our concern is that federal programs such as crop insurance, or even normal disaster assistance, are not sufficient for this type of disaster,” the letter said. “Highly rural areas like Sherman County rely on volunteers for firefighting, and very few farms in the wide open wheat fields of Eastern Oregon are prepared for the type of fast-moving fire that has engulfed these counties this week.”
A full version of this letter is here.